Zilber Family Foundation: Awards $3.9 million in grants to Milwaukee nonprofits

MILWAUKEE – The Zilber Family Foundation announced today that its Board of Directors approved $3.9 million in grants to 15 nonprofit organizations throughout Milwaukee in alignment with its primary focus areas, including affordable housing, community economic development, and basic human needs. The $3.9 million awarded includes $300,000 in “Gratitude Grants” to 67 existing partners for employee wellness and to show appreciation for the hardworking staff of the awarded organizations. 

“The Zilber Family Foundation remains dedicated to enhancing the well-being of individuals and the families of Milwaukee,” said Gina Stilp, Executive Director of the Zilber Family Foundation. “We are thrilled to continue our investment in nonprofit organizations taking transformative approaches to address the needs of our community and ensure a better, more equitable future.” 

This round of funding includes several grants targeted to increase access to quality and affordable housing.

“Years of discriminatory housing practices, coupled with the continued increase in out-of-state investors and economic uncertainty, have drastically diminished the ability for thousands of Milwaukee families to purchase homes, particularly in African American and Latino communities,” said Stilp. “Our board and staff firmly believe that increasing affordable housing requires targeted and sustained investment. We are excited to support organizations committed to scaling solutions in our community.” 

Social Development Commission, VIA CDC and United Methodist Children’s Services, are three examples of organizations focused on affordable housing, to receive support from Zilber Family Foundation. 

Social Development Commission 

Social Development Commission (SDC) serves as a planner, coordinator and provider of human service programs for low-income individuals and families in Milwaukee, with services ranging from housing counseling, job training, and financial literacy.

With support from the Community Development Alliance, SDC launched its Pathways to Homeownership Program in 2021 to meet the rising demand for homebuyer counseling services in Milwaukee. The program combines Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved housing counseling with other housing resources such as weatherization assistance, lead abatement, and other home repair services to maximize impact.


VIA CDC works alongside neighbors and stakeholders to build strong, healthy neighborhoods where everyone can thrive. 

With housing as a core organizational pillar, VIA CDC will use grant funding to support development of two model homes in the Lindsay Heights and Layton Boulevard West neighborhoods to showcase a new and innovative approach in home construction. These Lange Urban Sustainable Homes (LUSH) use modern technology to reduce costs and waste during the construction process and ultimately provide more affordable, sustainable housing options. 

Reclaiming Our Neighborhood (RON) Coalition 

The Reclaiming Our Neighborhood (RON) Coalition works to improve the quality of housing in nine Milwaukee neighborhoods, including Clarke Square and Lindsay Heights. The grant will support the expansion of a coalition that works to improve the quality of housing in Milwaukee neighborhoods through data-informed, resident-engaged strategies and actions.

Founded in 2013, the RON Coalition helps bridge the gap between residents and agencies that can provide both homeowners and renters with access to resources to address their housing needs. As a result of the Zilber Family Foundation’s contributions, RON Coalition will have capacity to hire a full-time coordinator and expand its services into more neighborhoods throughout Milwaukee.

Additional December 2022 grant recipients include:

  • Greater Milwaukee Foundation for Catchafire: To renew support for 145 nonprofits to access the Catchafire portal and match with highly-skilled, vetted, pro-bono consultants to complete projects that meet operating, organizational, and programmatic needs
  • Legal Action of Wisconsin: To support free housing-related legal services for residents in Zilber Neighborhood Initiative (ZNI) neighborhoods
  • LISC Milwaukee: To renew support to increase homeownership opportunities, increase small business creation and growth for entrepreneurs, and improve conditions in commercial corridors in underserved neighborhoods
  • Literacy Services: To support adult literacy education and workforce readiness skills development
  • PEARLS for Teen Girls: To support mentoring and leadership development programs for girls
  • Running Rebels Community Organization: To support intervention and prevention services for at-risk youth and young adults
  • SecureFutures: To provide teens financial literacy and education programs, including one-on-one coaching and mentoring
  • Sojourner Family Peace Center: To support the Community Domestic Abuse Advocacy Program and support the Center’s outcomes and evaluation work
  • Southside Organizing Committee: To support bilingual resident outreach, education, and organizing on Milwaukee’s southside, and organizational development activities
  • VIA CDC: To continue to serve as the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative lead agency in the Silver City, Burnham Park, Layton Park neighborhoods
  • Walnut Way Conservation Corp: To continue to serve as the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative lead agency in Lindsay Heights
  • Wisconsin Community Services: To support the purchase and renovation of a property to provide supportive housing for individuals recovering from addiction

A complete list of Zilber Family Foundation 2022 grant recipients is available on the Foundation website.

About the Zilber Family Foundation:

Formed in 1961 by Joseph J. Zilber, a philanthropist and businessman, the Zilber Family Foundation is a private independent grantmaking institution dedicated to enhancing the well-being of individuals, families, and neighborhoods by supporting nonprofits to address basic needs and personal safety, increase access to social and economic opportunity, and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods. For more information, please visit: www.zilberfamilyfoundation.org